Safety first when wading for specks
Should you have been doing any boating in our inland waterways, you will notice what appear to be new buoys along the shallows. That’s more than likely not the case. Now is the time when trophy speckled trout chasers are out in full force. Most of the more experienced anglers who plan to be wading will wear easily visible warm gear on their upper bodies. This is to make them more visual to any other boaters that are also going fishing. This practice should be at the forefront for all anglers who are into the wading thing when they are after the big females specks.
Another important thing to use while wading in the cooler waters is a good pair of insulated chest waders. As a precaution, be careful not to wade too deep so that the water comes over the top of the waders. One thing is not to go too deep, but just how you do that is to use your feet to shuffle along so as to feel any sudden drop-offs. These could not only cause discomfort, but also be fatal. A good example of that would be wading the shorelines of ship channels or rivers. The water can go from a couple feet deep down to several feet over your head in a single slip.
A good rule of thumb that has worked for me is not to take along too much fishing tackle. This can be cumbersome, and tackle can also simply get in the way. The float tubes with a place for a few lures and an extra rod and reel is a good idea. It would be a disaster to have a malfunction of some equipment and be a long way from the boat that brought you there.
The lures for the colder water are, in my opinion, quite simple. Any lure in a mullet or shad color and shape that sinks slowly will be the go-to choice. It is important to be doubly sure that the lure is armed with sharp, strong hooks. You might not get but one or two strikes from a big fish, and it would be a shame to miss landing it because of dull hooks. There are a number of lures on the market today that are made especially for going after the big speckled trout during the cold-water months. The most widely recognized one is the Corky. This lure has been used for taking many double-digit fish. The Catch 2000 as well as several others are becoming more popular.
I have had some good success using a big Rogue with a hole drilled between the lip and the front hook. The Holey Rogue became popular when bass guide on Toledo Bend Ken Sawyer began using it for catching schooling bass. The plastic lures such as Bass Assassins and other lures do a good job, too.
Whether to use a monofilament leader or not is strictly the angler’s choice. With the new materials that become nearly invisible in the water, more folks are using leaders that are stronger test than the main lure. Even the main line size has long been and still is debatable. Some folks use 8 to 10 pound test mono with the reel’s set loose. Then it may be set according to the breaking strength of the main line. The theory is to allow the fish to feel little or no resistance when it strikes. By the way, the cold-water strike will likely be only a sudden heavy feeling during your retrieve. A slow metabolism causes slower feeding action.
Some anglers choose to use heavier test line when they are going after heavy fish. The newer fluorocarbon lines allow heavier test lines to be fairly invisible. Heavier test line will not cast as far or as well as lighter test line. That needs to be considered when selecting the line test.
There are more and more trophy speck anglers now choosing to use live croakers for bait. These fish live well in the cool water, and they are a favorite food fish for outsized speckled trout. The specks will eat big croaker, mullet or shad, but those in the 8 to 10 inch length are easier to handle, and the big fish like them, too.
Many folks choose to do their thing in a boat. The boaters will drift along using the electric trolling motor occasionally to stay in the area. Just remember to be as silent as possible and don’t bump the boat. The fish didn’t grow large being stupid.
It’s big speck time now, but first of all, stay safe.
Billy Halfin can be reached by e-mail at bhalfinoutdoors [at] aol [dot] com.